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Thread: How long do you keep documents of deceased?

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    How long do you keep documents of deceased?

    I admit I'm a packrat with regard to documents, but I just went to walk my BIL's dog. He is the executor of my MIL's estate and they both lived together, next door, until she died last August.

    I noticed that he had a big pile of stuff to shred of his mothers sitting by the shredder. It includes medical stuff, bank statements, old checks, you name it--tons of stuff.

    I'm all for purging, and he really should start cleaning stuff out--but I just want to be sure he's not overzealous.

    how long should you keep the records, bills, checks, tax returns, etc. of loved ones who are deceased?
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  2. #2
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    I shredded everything and just kept the legal documents stating that the estate is closed.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    My brother and I were co-executors of my father's estate. I'm pretty detail oriented and had planned to go through piles of old documents like cancelled checks, various statements, medical bills, etc. A couple or few months after he passed away I discovered that my brother had pretty much wholesale tossed everything that I hadn't had a chance to sort. That was a couple of years ago and as aghast as I was, it hasn't seemed to cause any problems. I think other than the obvious legal documents and a year or two of tax returns, there wasn't much that was saved and it all worked out.

  4. #4
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Thanks, goldensmom and Roger,

    I guess I'll let it be and let him shred everything. I did find some cancelled checks that she had saved, sorted by gifts she had given me, DH and my kids, and I kept them to remind myself of her generosity. Maybe not necessary, because I won't forget her kindness, but still, it's nice to have "hard evidence" that someone who raised two kids as a single parent and worked her widowed life as a clerk in Macy's still could have it in her heart to have given so generously.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  5. #5
    Member AustinKat's Avatar
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    My mom died about eighteen months ago. I've kept the paperwork that resulted from her death: death certificates, of course, and correspondence with her lawyer about the will being recorded in the public records, and various letters from agencies acknowledging her death. Basically, if it says "We have received notice of [name]'s death, and her account is now closed, please accept our condolences," I've kept it. Plus her last few years of tax returns. I don't expect I'll ever be called upon to produce any of it, but it's there if needed.

  6. #6
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    My parents and brother died over twenty years ago and I still have their death certificates and wills. Is there a reason to keep those as well?

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